Employee Relations or Union Arbitrations; Which one do you prefer?

The National Labor Review Board (NLRB) approved and issued changes, which are coming in April, and will shorten the time between a union petition and an election from an average of 38 days to about 14 to 28 days.  According to Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), the time between a union petition and election hearing has been shortened, and there is no automatic right to appeal before an election is held.  Because there is so little time for the employer’s campaign, there need to be meetings by the Company about how to head off unionization every day after the petition is filed.

A “War Room” should be set up by the Company and ready to respond to a petition for a union, with ample storage for campaign materials, tables, seating, a shredder and access to the Internet. The employer may put a website together on unionization convincing employees to vote against it.  The web, email and social media are methods that unions are using to contact employees, and that is a trend that is expected to grow.  Company websites must counter this organized activity and show why employees are better off without unionization.

Once an employer has gotten a petition, they should immediately hold a supervisor meeting to determine the level of understanding each managers has about unions.  Supervisors will be the front line for the employer during the campaign period. They should be trained to provide convincing responses to questions that employees may ask.  Companies should identify who will be their management voice to communicate the employer’s message at meetings. It is very important to select a manager who employees respect.

Here is an example:
Employee state wages are low, and the union can help raise earnings.  Supervisors might be trained to respond the market is competitive and that higher pay may put jobs in jeopardy and result in layoffs.
Letters campaigns should be mailed to employees’ home early.  This allows the husband or wife to be aware that the union dues can be taken out of their paychecks.
Be prepared for unions:
1.  Review your policies – recommend open door policies and a bulletin board for employees to air their grievances.
2.  Benchmark employment practices – If a company is behind the market on wages and benefits and can’t explain why, unions will have an easier time organizing.
3.  Conduct employee and management surveys – By asking employees for their input, it will help them realize they have a voice that is heard, even without a union.
4.  Train management – Employers can’t wait until they have a petition for an election to train managers on union preparedness. Supervisors should be responsive when they see employees are unhappy in the workplace.
5.  Know yourself and how you’d organize your own employees – Most campaigns focus on two or three issues, such as wages and health insurance. Find out what your company’s weaknesses are and prepare a response in advance.
6.  Implement risk/response protocol – One of the biggest mistakes is for employers to start talking to employees about unionization without knowing the legal limits for such discussions. This makes it more difficult for an employer to fix problems in compliance with the National Labor Relations Act.
7.  Prepare first round of union avoidance materials in advance – Make sure the materials are available in different languages.

Good managers should have the ability to understand what employees are unhappy about. Unions most frequently are organized by unhappy employees who reach out to unions.

If you have employee relations issues, we recommend you do not allow them to fester.  Union avoidance begins with diffusing difficult employee situations.  Need help

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